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House candidate Linda Pritchett (HD 63): Lost house over 6-yr tax bill, filed RICO suit

 

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Linda Becquer Pritchett

(D-Riverdale)

 

District 63 (Fulton, Fayette & Clayton counties)

 

Linda Pritchett

Linda Pritchett

In 2008 Linda Pritchett bought a house in Forest Park, hoping to flip it for a quick profit. The crash of the housing market changed her plans. She kept it as a rental for six years but never paid the state and local property taxes; Clayton County sold the home on the courthouse steps in 2014 to recoup unpaid taxes and penalties of more than $8,900.

Pritchett, a paralegal who’s no stranger to litigation, wouldn’t give up without a fight, though. She sued in 2015, shortly after a final deadline to avert foreclosure, alleging procedural missteps should void the tax sale. Claiming defamation and violation of privacy, Pritchett also sought damages from the tax commissioner, the sheriff and the new owner under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act.

Although the suit is still pending, a Clayton County magistrate signed an eviction notice in November. A Superior Court judge dismissed Pritchett’s appeal.

In an interview, Pritchett blamed property managers for failing to pay earlier tax bills. Later, she said, other necessary expenses took precedence, particularly when tenants skipped out on rent or trashed the property. “From the financial perspective, as soon as I tried [to pay taxes], then something else came up,” she said.

“Honestly there really is no excuse,’ she said. “It’s a matter of what your priorities are.”

Pritchett in 2012 had $700 to spare, which she loaned to her campaign for a legislative seat shortly after the county placed a new $702 tax lien on the house.

We asked if that money instead could have paid her tax bill. “I see your point,” Pritchett responded, but “a campaign was something that was separate from that property.”


Pritchett’s fight to keep the Forest Park house was hardly her first time in a courtroom. WGCL-TV (CBS46) has reported that Pritchett pleaded no contest in 2010 to forging the registration sticker on her Lexus’s license plate and four other misdemeanors. WGCL’s Jeff Chirico reported that Pritchett also had convictions in Virginia in 2000 for grand larceny (later vacated on the condition that she serve two years’ probation) and in 2004 for driving with no insurance and with an expired registration. Online court records show she was sentenced to a year’s probation in 2006 for petty larceny in Fairfax County, Va.

Campaign website

Born: 1969

Political career

  • Polled 24%, finishing third, in a 2012 primary race for House District 63.
  • Polled 25% in the May 2016 Democratic primary for House District 63; faces front-runner Debra Bazemore in a July 26 runoff.

Employment

  • Paralegal, self-employed.

Business ownership interests

  • None disclosed.

Other fiduciary positions

  • None disclosed.

Real estate holdings

  • Personal residence in Fulton County valued at $78,000.

Other investments

  • None disclosed.

Payments from state agencies

  • None disclosed.

Friends & family

  • Pritchett’s aunt was the late salsa singer Celia Cruz.
  • Pritchett has worked as a part-time legislative aide to Rep. Sandra Scott.

Campaign contributions

Pritchett has raised more than $13,000 in political donations since 2012. She also loaned her campaign $700 in 2012.

  • 2012: $2,165
  • 2016: $11,820
  • Reported cash on hand (July 2016): $4,785

Top donors

  • $1,700 Sen. Emanuel Jones & other Democratic lawmakers
  • $1,300 International Brotherood of Electrical Workers
  • $1,300 Shelitha Robertson, Atlanta, Ga., attorney
  • $1,000 Georgia Federation of Teachers

Campaign-to-campaign donations

Candidates may give campaign funds to other candidates, a practice that some say provides a legal means to circumvent contribution limits. A 2003 bill to ban such transfers altogether passed in the Senate but died in the House. Pritchett’s campaign has made no such donations.

 Updated July 21, 2016

 

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